"What the hell is wrong with you?" -Me to Kurt Sutter, a few hours after I watched this episodeIt was clear from Kurt's reaction that this was far from the first time someone had asked the question in regards to "Albification." (Nor would it be the last; someone would ask it the next morning at the "Sons" press tour session.) And it's hard not to have that reaction when you know that Sutter's married to Katey Sagal, and that he wrote a storyline where his wife would play a woman who's kidnapped and brutally raped.
But Sutter, who has never been shy about defending all those sick and twisted things he pitched on "The Shield" (including a similar story for David Aceveda), said he thought it would be a good storyline for Sagal to play (not just the crime, but its aftermath). And Sagal - who has, after all, been married to this guy for a while now and is familiar with how his mind works - seemed just fine with the material.
So if we take concern for the state of their marriage out of the equation and just focus on its role within the show, then the attack on Gemma tells us two things: 1)That Ethan Zobelle and The League of American Nationalists represent a particularly twisted brand of evil, and will be tough opponents for Samcro, and 2)That in terms of intensity and confidence of storytelling, season two is picking up right where season one left off.
"Albification" (the title means "the act or process of making white") brings in Zobelle and his gang of Nazi thugs, but even as Gemma is being attacked, it's clear that the problems within Samcro are just as rough as the dangers coming from without. Clay resents this newly assertive and rebellious Jax, Piney and Opie both want vengeance (but only one of them knows who really killed Donna), Tig's ready to kill anybody who looks at him funny, and Bobby's out of prison, having been given an earful from Agent Stahl at the end of last season about what went down.
The League is going to be a big, big problem, but the way things are going, Samcro might very well destroy itself before Ethan and his tattooed buddy AJ have to do much more.
Some other thoughts:
• Sutter continues peppering the show with new covers of '60s/'70s songs (which he discussed at the tail end of my interview with him for the season one finale), as the episode opens with Anvil (of the documentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil") tackling "Slip Kid" by The Who. There's also a cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" by Lions.
• As Sutter told me last year, Ryan Hurst is now a regular as Opie, and it's great to still have the guy around. He's so big, and so intense, that his presence in any scene involving the men who know what really happened to Donna dramatically ratchets up the tension level. If/when Opie (who, don't forget, is also the club's demolitions expert) finds out the truth, hellfire is going to rain down on somebody. Maybe everybody.
• So what do you make of Agent Stahl's attitude in this one? Resigned to letting Samcro go as penance for her role in Donna's death? Or is she just biding her time, trying to seem more detached, even as she goes at the club in a new way?
• The blood squib flying at the camera lens when Opie kills the Mayan reminded me of the climactic tracking shot in "Children of Men," where they couldn't afford to stop filming despite blood on the lens because it would be too difficult to shoot more than once. (This was, of course, a much briefer shot, but I imagine Sutter or director Guy Ferland just liked the way it looked.)
• I've seen the first five episodes, and it wasn't until the third ep that I noticed Adam Arkin occasionally speaking in an odd, vaguely Eastern European, accent. (Primarily when he's speaking with strangers and trying to seem respectable.) Was that at all apparent here and I missed it?
What did everybody else think?